On August 3, 2011 a Franklinville woman learned just how risky it is to lie about workers’ compensation benefits. After failing to report workers’ compensation benefits paid to her husband between September of 2007 and 2009, Ann M. George received over $33,000 in Medicaid and food stamps. Had the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services been given information regarding benefits already being paid to the family, they would not have been eligible to receive the $33,000 in other assistance.
As reported by Buffalonews.com, “Ann M. George, 42, was taken into custody on charges of third-degree welfare fraud, third-degree grand larceny and five counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.”
While George waits for an upcoming Olean City Court date where she has an opportunity to answer these charges, the case brings to the forefront just how easy it is to defraud the system….. and get caught.
There are many individuals in need of assistance, especially during tough economic times. When individuals commit fraud and accept benefits to which they are not entitled, there are others out there in need that may go without. Resources are not unlimited, thus the requirements for eligibility for certain assistance programs. While it may appear easy to pull a fast one by not reporting benefits or failing to provide all required information, at some point in time fraudsters will be caught. Government systems are not all linked together allowing administrators to immediately spot when someone is lying or collecting benefits fraudulentsly, however eventually this information will be tied together and when that happens, the person or persons receiving benefits unjustly will pay the price.
This case also points out the importance of handling your workers’ compensation or any other claims properly to ensure you are not unwittingly omitting information or receiving benefits to which you are not entitled. When in doubt, always consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to learn if your claim and any benefits you are receiving are correct and legally available.